India’s food grain production is estimated to touch a new high in 2021-22 than the previous year when it touched an all-time high of 308.65 million tonnes. Given the fact that the farmers’ protest has finally come to an end, the nation has all eyes upon the agriculture sector to boost the limping Indian economy. Growing at 3.5%, food grain production is likely to remain in the range of 310-320 million tonnes. This piece of news coming from the government sources is highly reassuring at a time when the country seems in the throes of yet another Covid-19 wave. These happy tidings bring us to another feel-good report titled ‘Investing for Impact: Food, Agri, and Agritech’ from agriculture think tank Aspire Impact. It says the Indian agriculture sector can generate USD 813 billion in revenue with an investment of USD 272 billion in Agritech and other related sectors by 2030. It will create 152 million jobs, impact 1.1 billion lives, and make agriculture the largest private sector industry in India.
Just to put things on record, India’s Agri sector received USD 9 billion in FDI in the last decade. This fact alone shows a lot of promise and opportunity for private sector investment in Indian agriculture. The report further points out that this huge potential can be unlocked with smart innovations, infrastructure and policy support, and newer business models. However, there are a few hiccups along the way. Among the key challenges, the low-mechanisation level is a major one. Compared to 90% in developed economies, the mechanisation levels in India are 40-50%. Moreover, monsoon dependency accounts for 68% of the cultivation area and 40-45% of total agriculture output. Additionally, the demand for food grains is also expected to grow by 3% during the coming period. If the Aspire Impact study is to be believed then the country urgently needs transformation in farm practises and ecosystems through investments and policy push. It believes that with Agritech start-ups and innovative models expected to dominate the sector, India Inc has already begun to pave the way for change.
Thus, the buzzword is Investment and Agritech. Such investments would come from wealthy businessmen and cash-rich corporations. Now, both will make their hands dirty only looking for profit. But will Indian agriculture ever be so profitable for big investments and blue-chip coding professionals? Interestingly, the available facts don’t allude to this possibility. A recent Forbes report reveals that India produced 41 unicorns in 2021 with a combined valuation of USD 81 billion. None of them is from the Agritech domain. India is home to 79 unicorns worth USD 260 billion but none again is from Agritech. But why is there not a single unicorn from the agriculture sector yet? The major reason for this again is the fact that the Agri-sector must embrace the positive developments and rope in more technological reforms before the impactful changes can be witnessed. Already a lot of time has been wasted by the protests and controversial laws that slowed the fast pace of the Agri-sector. It’s time now for the government and the farmers to come to terms and build a robust Agri economy as the new waves and variants of the virus loom large upon our future.